Since 2012, 11 October has been marked as the International Day of the Girl
. The day aims to highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face, while promoting girls' empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights. Discrimination and violence against girls and violations of their human rights still happen. The UN felt the need to raise awareness of the challenges that millions of girls face every day.
This international awareness day was inspired by the because I Am a Girl campaign. The campaign was launched by the international aid organization Plan in order to address the issue of gender discrimination and promote rights of girls across the world.
International Day of the Girl Child focuses on promoting girls' empowerment and highlighting the unique challenges girls face around the world. The issues addressed on the occasion include (but are not limited to) unfree child marriage, teenage pregnancy, violence, discrimination, gender inequality etc. In many countries, girls have limited access to education, medical care, legal aid.
Each year, the United Nations selects a new theme for the day. For example, the first theme was “Ending Child Marriage”. All participants are encouraged to link events they organize to the current year's theme. International Day of the Girl Child events and activities are held by governments of Member States, the UN system, NGOs, and civil society
The observation supports more opportunity for girls and increases awareness of gender inequality faced by girls worldwide based upon their gender. This inequality includes areas such as right to education/access to education, nutrition, legal rights, medical care, and protection from. . discrimination, violence against women and unfree child marriage. The celebration of the day also "reflects the successful emergence of girls and young women as a distinct cohort in development policy, programming, campaigning and research."
The theme for this year's International Day of the Girl is Girls' Progress = Goals' Progress: What Counts for Girls. Only when investments in programs for girls on issues that particularly affect them - due to both their age and gender - are complemented with corresponding investments in data on girls, can we make real progress towards greater accountability in domains of critical importance to them.
Adolescent girls have the right to a safe, educated, and healthy life, not only during these critical formative years, but also as they mature into women. If effectively supported during the adolescent years, girls have the potential to change the world – both as the empowered girls of today and as tomorrow’s workers, mothers, entrepreneurs, mentors, household heads, and political leaders. An investment in realising the power of adolescent girls upholds their rights today and promises a more equitable and prosperous future, one in which half of humanity is an equal partner in solving the problems of climate change, political conflict, economic growth, disease prevention, and global sustainability.
Over the last 15 years, the global community has made significant progress in improving the lives of girls during early childhood. In 2015, girls in the first decade of life are more likely to enrol in primary school, receive key vaccinations, and are less likely to suffer from health and nutrition problems than were previous generations. However, there has been insufficient investment in addressing the challenges girls face when they enter the second decade of their lives. This includes obtaining quality secondary and higher education, avoiding child marriage, receiving information and services related to puberty and reproductive health, and protecting themselves against unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease and gender-based violence.
As the global community launches the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for implementation over the next 15 years, it is a good time to recognise the achievements made in supporting young girls, while at the same time aspiring to support the current and upcoming generation of adolescent girls, to truly fulfil their potential as key actors in achieving a sustainable and equitable world.
Issues effecting Girls Worldwide
15 million before the age of 18 every, the equivalent of one every 2 seconds. If we don’t act now, more than 140 million girls will be bride by 2020.
WHAT IS CHILD MARRIAGE?
Child marriage is a violation of children’s human rights. Despite being prohibited by international law, it continues to rob millions of girls under 18 around the world of their childhood. Early marriage denies girls their right to make vital decisions about their sexual health and well-being. It forces them out of education and into a life of poor prospects, with increased risk of violence, abuse, ill health or early death.
Child marriage happens for several reasons, because younger wives are more obedient, laws are not enforced, and to protect girls from sexual violence.
WHERE DOES IT HAPPEN?
Early marriage and forced marriage is most common in South Asia and West and Central Africa, where 46% and 41% of girls become child brides respectively. Among girls growing up in Latin America and the Caribbean, 29% experience early
marriage, compared with 18% in East Asia and the Pacific, 15% in the Arab States and 11% in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES?
Early pregnancy is one of the most dangerous causes and consequences of child marriage. Girls married early are more likely to experience violence, abuse and forced sexual relations. They are more vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections (including HIV).
Going to school gives girls choices and opportunities in life, allowing them to play an active role in their communities and break the cycle of poverty. Girls who are married are unlikely to be in school. Education is essential for girls to be able to make informed decisions about their sexual health and well-being
COUNTING THE INVISIBLE GIRLS
Millions of girls are ‘invisible’ to governments and policy makers because vital data is not being recorded about their lives. Last year, our 'Counting the Invisible' report revealed how improving the information we have about girls could have a massive impact on the quest for gender equality by 2030 as set by the Global Goals
'Counting the Invisible' explored the state of gender data and exposed the gaps. It uncovered the fact that we don’t count how many girls leave school because of early marriage, pregnancy or violence, or exactly how many girls give birth before they turn 15, how many hours a day they spend working, what kind of work they do and whether they get paid for it.
It revealed that only by identifying girls' needs and listening to their voices can we help make real change possible